grading: side effects may include...

OK, I realize I'm basically the only person in the blogosphere who is STILL grading. And it won't even end today when I finish this stack of papers: I give a final exam this afternoon so I'll have that fun to look forward to tomorrow. But exams don't require comments, so it's a much faster process.

And of course I procrastinated on reading the papers, blah, blah, blah, so I'm up against a deadline for returning them. Same old story, familiar to me and my three readers. But this term I experienced a new side effect: last night from 4 a.m. to 6, after waking up to let the Old Girl out, I dreamed that I was grading papers. Not new ones -- the same papers I'd read yesterday afternoon. I regraded them all in my dream. I was actually reading text and thinking about grades. Not at all restful.



Kilter: Good condition, order; state of health or spirits. Used in the phrases out of kelter, in (good, high) kelter, to get into kelter. [OED] [U.S. form kilter]
But when you look more closely at the examples listed with the definition, the latest example of kelter being used in its positive sense was 1828 -- most of them are 17th century. In recent centuries, and especially in U.S. usage, the negative phrase of something being "out of kilter" or "off kilter" is far more prevalent.

It's often easier to talk about things being out of balance than it is to focus on the things that are in order. It's easier to see what's disordered, to focus on the problems, than to see what's actually working. It's perversely easier to complain than to talk about what's already good.

I've been literally off balance for a few weeks as an ankle injury heals. It's always the same ankle, the one weakened years ago by a bad injury that didn't heal properly, the one pre-disposed by genetics and physical anomalies towards injury. Thankfully I wasn't born into a time and place in which my only function was to sit still and look delicate, since the rest of me doesn't exactly fit the latter requirement, but my ankle would be perfectly happy just flirting under a fan sipping tea and knitting lace. My ankle is a bit of lady - -grafted on top of a leg that's built like most of my ancestors, for peasant work out in the fields. It's only an uneasy truce these warring class factions have been able to negotiate, and the ligaments who police
the ankle treaty are at fault for being too lenient, too flexible.

I'm never a very good patient, for all my attempts to cultivate patience in the rest of my life (my deliberate choice of the slow lane on the freeway, my deep breathing in the grocery store): I hate to be sick or injured and too easily fall into all or nothing doomsday foretellings: if I have a cold, I become convinced that I'll NEVER be able to breathe through my nose AGAIN. If my ankle sprains, I imagine never being able to walk, dance, jump freely. Of course, this is a good reminder to be grateful for what I mostly still do have. This week, as I'm able to return to half of my normal level of activity (with ice and a brace and all the rest) I'm better able to contemplate my good fortune. How good it is that it was only an ankle sprain that has been making me feel so sad, so slothful, so trapped. Something relatively temporary, no matter how long three weeks can feel to my ego, to my fragile brain chemistry, to my waistline.

I'm moving back into kilter. Slowly, slowly, but ever so gladly.